- News and Notes
Community of Democracies Meets in Chile
The Community of Democracies, an international body of more than one hundred democratic nations established in 1999, convened its Third Ministerial Meeting on April 28–30 in Santiago, Chile. The meeting was the first to include nongovernmental participants in addition to public officials, providing leaders from both arenas an opportunity to discuss the challenges facing democracy as well as the promotion and strengthening of democratic institutions worldwide.
The meeting resulted in the release of two declarations: Government representatives agreed on a set of ministerial commitments, entitled "Cooperating for Democracy," and the nongovernmental participants issued a final document containing policy recommendations. These two statements can be found at http://www.santiago2005.org. The first two meetings of the Community of Democracies had taken place in Warsaw in June 2000 and in Seoul in November 2002.
Reform in the South Caucasus
On March 18–19, a conference entitled "The Constitutional/Political Reform Process in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan: Political Elites and Voices of the People," took place in Tbilisi, Georgia. Its cosponsors were International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD). Sixty government representatives, academics, and experts debated the political and constitutional reform process in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and discussed prospects for these countries' integration with Europe. Speakers included Nino Burjanadze, chairperson of the Georgian parliament; Ghia Nodia, CIPDD chairman; and Jacques Vantomme, chargé d'affaires [End Page 187] of the European Commission delegation to Georgia and Armenia. More information on the conference is available at http://www.idea.int.
Chinese Activist Receives International Award
On May 5, Chinese workers' rights advocate Han Dongfang received the 2005 International Activist Award, an honor he shared with the founders of the U.K.-based group Global Witness. Han is founding director of the Hong Kong–based China Labour Bulletin, which supports mainland Chinese workers in lawsuits against employers and the government, provides legal defense for arrested activists, and produces research reports on labor issues in China. The International Activist Award is given biannually by the Gleitsman Foundation, a nonprofit organization that encourages social activism worldwide. For more information, see http://www.gleitsman.org.
The New York Democracy Forum
The New York Democracy Forum (NYDF), a joint project of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Foreign Policy Association, held its inaugural dinner on March 9. The dinner honored diplomat, financier, and philanthropist John Whitehead and former NED board chairman John Richardson. Whitehead and Richardson were awarded NED's Democracy Service Medal for their lifelong contributions to democracy and human rights. Among those offering remarks were former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger and NED board member and former U.S. ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke.
The NYDF sponsors a monthly public lecture series at Hunter College. The first three lectures in the series were held in the spring: On March 22, former U.S. congressman Richard Gephardt spoke on "Spreading Freedom"; on April 20, Iranian scholar and author Azar Nafisi addressed the topic "Women, Culture, and Human Rights: The Case of Iran"; and on May 24, Francis Fukuyama, professor of international political economy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, gave a lecture entitled "Do We Really Know How to Promote Democracy?" More information can be found at http://www.ned.org.
Conference on Muslim Democracy
On April 22–23, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) held its sixth annual conference, entitled "Democracy and Development: Challenges for the Islamic World," in Washington, D.C. At the event, CSID's Muslim Democrat of the Year Award was given to Malaysian dissident and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim for his support of democracy and his promotion of a moderate interpretation of Islam in Southeast Asia. Panels topics included "The Impact of Globalization on Democratization and Development," "Women and [End Page 188] Political-Economic Development," "Identifying Conceptual and Economic Pre-Requisites for Democratization in the Muslim World," and "Voices of Muslim Democrats: Political Reform in the Muslim World." Among the speakers were Saad Eddin Ibrahim of the Cairo-based Ibn Khaldun Center, USAID administrator Andrew Natsios...